It can be very overwhelming to choose your career. You feel like you have to have everything figured out –
“What will make me happy and fulfilled for the next thirty plus years?”
“What will make me enough money for the life I want?”
“What will allow me the flexibility I need?”
Even if you aren’t choosing your first job, you might feel this way. You already have some years of experience in one field, you’re committed now and you hope you’ll love it forever. But you don’t have to have it all figured out. And better still, you don’t have to choose one linear direction that you will have to follow for your whole career. Instead, focus on finding your next right thing.
It can take a while to learn what you like about any job. You may find you love one element of what you do that really gets you excited to go to work. No matter how many years you’ve been working, it’s important to be open to the fact that what you enjoy at work can change.
I used to think that in the beginning of your career you figure out what you like and dislike, choose a direction and then stick with it. But now, about a decade in, I realize that we’re all just job dating. We’re going out on dates. Finding similar interests, learning who we are and who we want to be at each step of the way. The jobs where you are constantly learning, growing and becoming the best work version of yourself? That’s a relationship.
You may have figured out dating, gotten married even. It’s a known quantity right? You know what bad dates look like. You know what good dates feel like, the ones where you talk until the wee hours of the night or you can’t wait to talk again. That’s what a good job fit feels like too. You might be thinking about what project you’d like to work on next or a new idea you have.
Figure Out Your Pros and Cons
The best way to know if this job date is working is to check those pros and cons. Start with your current job or previous job experiences. What have you loved about your job and what hasn’t been your favorite? And this can include both transferrable skills and specific things you’ve enjoyed. For example, you may love working with people, leading a team or public speaking. You may dislike working on spreadsheets or working alone.
Now, make your pro and cons lists for potential next jobs. Maybe you have a list for sales jobs- what would you love about a sales job? What would you dislike? Maybe you also have a list for an HR role or a supply chain role. Keep in mind, you can make a pro and cons list for anything. This part is just for you.
Check out this list to help you identify the biggest goals!
There may be something that you’re great at doing that you may not be including in your list. Trusted advice from a mentor or friend may just bring one of those talents to light and give you focused options to consider.
Find The Intersection
You’ve figured out what you’ve previously liked and disliked, you’ve listed the pluses and minuses of each of your potential future jobs and you’ve asked what skills you have according to others. Now find where these things intersect. According to Ashley Stahl in Forbes, “What you’re good at, what companies need, and what you like to do might all be different, but it’s important to try to find the overlap between the three.” Find the intersection where your interests, skills and the current job market needs meet then go after it.
Each time you’re ready to make a job change, it’s important to go back to the drawing board. Even if you want to stay in your current vocation, you may be looking for different learning or more impact in your next role. Adding clarity to your search will help you know which jobs to go after and how to answer those interview questions so that you land in your next right thing.
A professional, speaker, coach, leader, corporate director, wife, boxer, dancer and cat mom. I'm here to be your best friend voice with a plan, helping you achieve your goals and reach your potential.
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